TIME Terrorism

Terrorism-Related Deaths Up 60% Last Year, Study Says

An Afghan policeman is seen through the wreckage of a taxi which was destroyed by a suicide attack targeting a vehicle convoy of Afghan lawmakers in Kabul, Afghanistan on Nov. 16, 2014. Farshad Usyan—AFP/Getty Images

More than 80% of the deaths occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria

Nearly 18,000 people were killed in terrorist-related incidents last year, a 60% increase from the previous year, a new study found. Deaths have increased five-fold since 2000.

The report, compiled by the Institute for Economics & Peace, attributes the increased terrorist activity to the growing influence of “radical Islamic groups.” Two thirds of the fatalities came at the hands of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the report said.

“Given the theological nature of the problem it is difficult for outside actors to be influential,” Steve Killelea, institute executive chairman, said in a statement.

As the number of deaths has expanded, the location of attacks has remained limited. More than 80% of the deaths occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

TIME Syria

French Citizen Identified in ISIS Execution Video

More than 1,600 French nationals are involved with ISIS

France identified one of its citizens Monday as an executioner in the latest ISIS video showing the beheading of an American hostage.

A prosecutor in Paris identified him as Maxime Hauchard, 22, a convert to Islam whom French authorities have been tracking for years. He recently posted pictures of himself in fatigues in Syria. He also gave an interview to a French television network in July and claimed part of the credit for ISIS’ capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Hauchard converted at 16 and has a felony conviction for driving without insurance, said the prosecutor, Francois Molins. He attended an…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME isis

White House Confirms Latest ISIS Beheading

Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig ISIS Islamic State
Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig is pictured making a food delivery to refugees in Lebanonís Bekaa Valley in this May 2013 handout photo. Reuters

President Barack Obama confirmed the news

President Barack Obama on Sunday confirmed the murder of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig by militant extremist group ISIS.

A former U.S. Army Ranger, 26-year-old Kassig was working as a medical aid to Syrians escaping civil war when he was captured in Syria in October of last year, the Associated Press reports. He converted to Islam in captivity and went by the name Abdul-Rahman.

“Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity,” Obama said in a statement. “Like Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that [ISIS] represents. While [ISIS] revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction, Abdul-Rahman was a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict.”

The 16-minute video, which claims the execution took place in the Syrian town of Dabiq, also showed the beheadings of several Syrian soldiers.

“[ISIS]’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own,” Obama said in his statement.

The video, posted to websites previously used by the group, warns the U.S. to cease its airstrike campaign in Iraq and Syria, which the U.S. began earlier this year in order to halt the group’s expansion.

“There can be no greater contrast than that between Abdul-Rahman’s generosity of spirit and the pernicious evil of [ISIS],” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “During his time in captivity, his family, and the entire government, including his home state Senator Joe Donnelly, worked to avoid this tragic outcome. His mother’s searing plea directed to his captors is unforgettable. The fact that her appeal went unheeded is only further testament to the wicked inhumanity of the [ISIS] terrorists who have taken her son from her.”

In a statement released by the Pentagon late on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel saluted Kassig’s relentless dedication to serving others — first as a ranger and then later as an aid worker — during his short life.

“As we join his loved ones in mourning his loss, we also celebrate his service,” said Hagel. “And we celebrate his commitment – a lifetime commitment to, as he said, ‘stand beside those who might need a helping hand.’”

Read next: An Army Ranger Helps Syrian Refugees

TIME isis

Why ISIS Can Survive Without Baghdadi

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Image purportedly shows the caliph of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, giving a speech in an unknown location. EPA

With reports of his death proving unfounded, experts explain why ISIS doesn't necessarily need its leader

Amidst speculation that U.S.-led airstrikes had last week killed or injured Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the group released an audio message on Thursday from Baghdadi himself where he called on his supporters to “erupt volcanoes of jihad”, saying ISIS would “never abandon fighting”, adding: “they will be triumphant, even if only one man of them is left.” While Baghdadi apparently was not killed in last week’s raid on the Iraqi city of Mosul, the rumors nonetheless raised the question: can ISIS survive and thrive without its mysterious frontman?

“Baghdadi is more like a CEO than a traditional battlefield leader,” says Justin Dargin, a Middle East scholar at the University of Oxford. Unlike the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Baghdadi does not present himself as a charismatic, messianic leader to his followers. A November report from security intelligence firm The Soufan Group agrees, saying Baghdadi “has not needed to be a visionary or a natural leader, just strong enough to impose his will more effectively than anyone else.”

MORE: Al-Qaeda’s new star rises

Nicknamed “the invisible sheikh” by his followers, Baghdadi has been careful to reveal very little about himself, aside from a few videos released by ISIS, and even reportedly wears a mask when addressing ISIS fighters. Experts say this is partially a response to what happened to other leaders who were hunted down once their secret locations were discovered, including his predecessor Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. bombing raid in 2006. Baghdadi reportedly went to Afghanistan in the late 1990s with Zarqawi, who went on to found al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group that would eventually become ISIS.

As a member of Zarqawi’s terrorist group, Baghdadi was picked up and detained for five years by the U.S. in Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2004, where many al-Qaeda commanders were jailed. “”Prison sentences are opportunities for these people to meld ideologies, to develop friendships, to develop trust,” says Lauren Squires, research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington D.C. “Camp Bucca is where [Baghdadi] actually met a lot of his closest cohorts that are in ISIS now,”

Once a somewhat peripheral figure, Baghdadi has now become ISIS’s leading man, playing an instrumental part in gathering support for the militant group as it established its self-proclaimed caliphate in June. “He became a very public face to this organization that was rapidly growing,” says Squires, referring to Baghdadi’s notorious appearance in a video leading prayer at a mosque in Mosul in July. “So he was important in unifying and developing this group to get it off the ground.”

MORE: How to financially starve ISIS

Baghdadi also claims to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, naming himself “Caliph Ibrahim” in July, ruler of the Islamic State caliphate which gives him further legitimacy among the organization’s followers.

But Paul Rogers, professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in the U.K., points out that while Baghdadi is very important, ISIS “is an organization that is both adaptive and robust.” Squires agrees, saying that the old Western strategy of cutting off the head of a snake no longer applies, because of how resilient ISIS has proven to be. Data from IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center suggests that the U.S.-led coalition has failed to slow down the number of ISIS attacks, and body counts are higher than ever before. In Baghdadi’s recent audio message he claimed that “America and its allies are terrified, weak, and powerless.”

That resilience comes from the fact that the core leadership of ISIS is primarily made up of professionals who were elite members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government in Iraq. That gives the group a clear command and control structure, says Dargin.

Unlike al-Qaeda’s affiliate-based system, which operates through more independent cells in different parts of the world, ISIS is located in a tighter geographical area and has a more government-like, bureaucratic structure. That includes two major military and administrative bodies: the Shura Council and the Sharia Council. “What’s different [from al-Qaeda] is that the structure falls underneath one central command,” says Squires.

This leads her to believe that the most effective way to degrade a terrorist organization like ISIS “is by hitting the mid-level to senior-level leadership” repeatedly, in order to remove that echelon and ensure the group will not be able to reconstitute its leadership—rather than focusing solely on Baghdadi.

MORE: ISIS is minting its own money

Researchers tell TIME that it’s very difficult to identify who would be the next viable successor in the event of Baghdadi’s death, but that they are certain ISIS has contingency plans and that it would only be a temporary setback for the group, especially in practical terms. “It is extremely important to remember that ISIS considers itself a “state,” and while it is not a state such as is recognizable anywhere else in the world, it would not allow itself to collapse because of the death of one leader,” says Dargin.

The death of Baghdadi could also feed into the religious beliefs of ISIS followers who extol martyrdom. Indeed, Squires believes his death may even increase “the global jihadi incentive to join and conduct retaliatory attacks.”

Of course, if Baghdadi is killed, many within ISIS and outside it may see his death as a strategic blow against the terrorist organization—and a successful attack would surely be trumpeted by the U.S. But as the group continues to increase its stronghold in Iraq and Syria, it seems that ISIS will remain a threat to the region for quite some time—with or without Baghdadi.

Read next: Obama Authorizes Deployment of 1,500 Troops to Iraq

TIME United Kingdom

U.K. Looks to Stop Suspected Terror Fighters from Coming Home

They could be barred from U.K. for two years

The British government outlined new antiterrorism measures Thursday to bar suspected jihadists from entering the U.K. and to prevent would-be fighters from leaving.

British citizens who travel abroad to fight alongside the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) will be prevented from returning to the U.K. for two years and only allowed to re-enter if they consent to face trial, home detention, police surveillance or attend a de-radicalization course, the Guardian reports.

The plans, revealed by Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra, follow a pledge Cameron made in September to increase counterterrorism efforts after the U.K. raised its terror threat level to “severe.”

Security services believe up to 500 Britons have travelled to Syria, many of whom are aged between 16 and 21.

[The Guardian]

TIME Terrorism

ISIS Is Minting Its Own Money

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa
A fighter from the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014. Reuters

It will be circulated in areas of Syria and Iraq

The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) said Thursday that it plans to introduce its own currency in the areas under its control because it wishes to “emancipate itself from the satanic global economic system.”

ISIS said it will be minting new gold, silver and copper coins as part of a new currency called Dinar, according to a message translated by SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors terrorist activity.

MORE: ISIS leader’s new orders: ‘Erupt volcanoes of jihad”

It is not yet clear how ISIS will produce the currency, which will be “based on the inherent value of the metals,” but the group says its “Treasury Department” will organize minting and circulation.

ISIS did not say when the currency would be launched or specify in which areas it would begin circulating the currency.

MORE: How to financially starve ISIS

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 12

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. “Seven years after returning from Iraq, I’m finally home.” One veteran reflects on how service after his time at war changed his life.

By Chris Miller in Medium

2. Humanity’s gift for imitation and iteration is the secret to our innovation and survival.

By Kat McGowan in Aeon

3. Amid news of a groundbreaking climate agreement, it’s clear the China-U.S. relationship will shape the global future.

By Natalie Nougayrède in the Guardian

4. Lessons a year after Typhoon Haiyan: The pilot social safety net in place before Haiyan struck the Philippines helped the country better protect families after the disaster.

By Mohamad Al-Arief at the World Bank Group Social Protection and Labor Global Practice

5. A handful of simple policy reforms — not requiring new funding — can set the table for breaking the cycle of multigenerational poverty.

By Anne Mosle in the Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Syria

13.6 Million Displaced Syrians and Iraqis Face Supplies Shortage, UN Says

A Syrian Kurdish boy looks on as he stands in a refugee camp in the town of Suruc, Turkey, on November 5, 2014. Aris Messinis—AFP/Getty Images

Funding shortages have forced relief workers to triage shipments to children and refugees in wintry climates

More than 13 million people have fled from conflict zones in Iraq and Syria in an ongoing humanitarian crisis that the United Nations’ refugee agency says could push relief efforts to a breaking point.

The updated tallies include 7.2 million displaced persons within Syria, nearly half of whom have fled to neighboring countries, as well as 1.9 million displaced persons in Iraq.

While the agency has spent $154 million on winter supplies, representatives report that inventories are running dangerously low. Without an additional $58.5 million in donations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would be forced to ration basic supplies, including blankets and warm clothing, according to a press release.

“UNHCR is having to make some very tough choices over who to prioritize,” said the agency’s chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming. Shipments would be targeted to young children and refugees in cold, high altitude climates. “For those we’re unable to prioritize, the conditions could nonetheless be very tough,” she said.


ISIS Leader Injured in Air Strike, Iraqi Officials Say

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hit Saturday during a meeting with militants, though not much is known

Iraqi authorities announced on Sunday that an air strike wounded Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

He was hit Saturday in the town of Qaim in Iraq’s Anbar province during a meeting with militant forces, anonymous Iraqi officials told the Associated Press.

The Defense and Interior Ministries of Iraq said in statements that al-Baghdadi was injured, but they did not elaborate on the injury or the air strike. The Pentagon offered no additional information.

Since al-Baghdadi, thought to be in his early 40s, took over the militants in 2010, he has grown it from a local al-Qaeda branch into a powerful, independent Islamist extremist group.

The U.S. and allied forces began launching air strikes against ISIS targets in September.


TIME national secrurity

Obama Authorizes Deployment of 1,500 Troops to Iraq

The move will nearly double the number of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. The administration is also requesting an additional $5.6 billion to fight ISIS

President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of as many as 1,500 additional troops to Iraq as a part of his effort to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the White House announced Friday afternoon.

The Obama administration is also requesting $5.6 billion in funding for the current fiscal year to fund operations against ISIS, the White House announced, of which $3.4 billion will go directly into the U.S. air campaign against the militant group in Iraq and Syria. The balance of the funding would be used to equip Iraqi and Kurdish forces, as fund State Department efforts against ISIS.

The new U.S. troop deployment reflects a doubling of the American troop commitment to the country. Roughly 1,400 American troops are currently in Iraq training and advising Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as protecting American diplomatic facilities in the country.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. forces would expand the American military’s training and advisory mission in Iraq outside of Baghdad and Erbil. The U.S. troops, while armed for self-defense, would not be involved in direct combat, the White House said.

The additional troop request follows an official request from the government of Iraq, the administration said.

“The United States and its coalition partners will continue to confront the threat of ISIL with strength and resolve as we seek to degrade and ultimately defeat [ISIS] through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism campaign,” said Earnest in a statement.

A senior administration official told reporters that the additional troop deployment follows a U.S. review of its efforts to assist Iraqi forces, which determined that there should be more flexibility in training Iraqi forces. “Now we are matching resources against that analysis,” the official said. “We think this gives us a very solid foundation within the country to provide support to the Iraqis as they take the fight to [ISIS].”

The official rejected the notion that the additional troops reflected “mission creep,” saying the mission remains the same. “We are keeping the limiting factor on the mission,” the official said, referencing the no-combat provisions. “We are adding personnel to better carry out the mission.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement that U.S. Central Command would stand up two “expeditionary advise and assist operations centers” outside of Baghdad and Erbil. “These centers will be supported by an appropriate array of force protection capabilities,” he said.

“U.S. Central Command will establish several sites across Iraq that will accommodate the training of 12 Iraqi brigades, specifically nine Iraqi army and three Peshmerga brigades,” he added. “These sites will be located in northern, western, and southern Iraq. Coalition partners will join U.S. personnel at these locations to help build Iraqi capacity and capability. The training will be funded through the request for an Iraq Train and Equip Fund that the administration will submit to Congress as well as from the Government of Iraq.”

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